Shortcut Monday is a series highlighting Shortcuts that I use on a regular basis. If you haven’t downloaded the Shortcuts app yet, you can do so for free here.
Since we adopted our first child, Jax, we noticed that we talked much less about our lives with each other than we previously did. Our conversations largely focused on our son but not about what is going on emotionally such as stressors, happenings during the day, or even just what is on our mind. To this end my wife had a brilliant idea of us asking four simple questions to each other every day. These questions help let each other know how our day went but also how we are doing emotionally both positively and negatively.
While we do this everyday in conversation with each other I wanted a way to capture this in Day One on my way home. The transition from work to home can sometimes be difficult. I often will just listen to a podcast but this will not only help me prepare for our conversation but also help with this transition (download the shortcut here).
I created this specific Shortcut for these four questions but I will probably use the same logic with audio prompts and dictation for other types of entries.
The Four Questions
- What was your low (or worst thing) about your day? This question is fairly simple and just answers what was the worst thing about your day. Most of our days are pretty mediocre but this gives us a chance to reflect on our day and share something that happened. Sometimes this is as simple as “I went out to eat and I didn’t eat as healthy as I would have like” or sometimes more complex such as recounting a conversation with a co-worker that was difficult during the day. This also gives each of us the chance to expand on what happened during the day and we will often engage in a lengthier conversation about what went on.
- What was your high (or best thing) about your day? This is the same question but on the positive side.
- What has you feeling negative right at this moment? This question is similar to the one above but the focus isn’t on something that necessarily happened today. The goal of this question is to look at the stressors in our life that may be weighing us down. It’s a time to pause and focus about what is going on inside emotionally and to verbalize that to one another. This could be the upcoming stress of trying to get everything ready to go in order to leave for Christmas, to a project at work that is hanging over our head, our son’s schedule, or a whole host of other things going on.
- What has you feeling positive right at this moment? The same question as above but we want to end on a positive note.
You will need to first download the audio files here then upload them to iCloud Drive and create a folder within the Shortcuts folder titled Daily Reflections (iCloud Drive/Shortcuts/Daily Reflections)
First, I get the current volume of the phone and store that in a variable. I want to set my volume to the max so I can clearly hear the prompts but afterwards I would like my phone to go back to the previous volume.
Beginner Tip: The “Get Device Details” can grab all sorts of information from your phone from the volume, brightness, version number, etc. This can be handy in a variety of situations.
- Grab the current volume then set the phone volume to the max
Next, I wanted to be able to do this while I’m driving so I need this to be completely hands free. I created four audio files of me saying each question. This gives me the prompt and then a slight pause so I can begin to formulate what I would like to say. The dictation box then comes up and I can just speak my answer. After I pause for a second it moves onto the next prompt. This same action will run four times but with a different audio prompt.
Beginner Tip: The “Get File” action grabs the audio from iCloud Drive. The “Play Sound” action takes that audio and plays it through my phone. When you are working with Shortcuts you have to think like a programmer. Thus, you can just use “Play Sound” because the app doesn’t know what sound you want to play. You have to provide it with some sort of audio file first.
- Grab the previously recorded file and play the sound
Before going to the Day One action I want to reset my phone’s volume so I use the “Set Volume” action and using a “Magic Variable” I grab the device details from the first step in the workflow and use that for the new volume.
The nice thing about the Shortcuts app is that I don’t have to store each of these dictated texts into a variable for later. By using “Magic Variables” I can grab each of these dictations in the Day One action.
Since Day One can use Markdown I use the # sign to do my header then type in the prompts in bold via the asterisks. Each “Dictated Text” variable is just obtained from the workflow.
- The final step
Next, the workflow will open up in Day One. When I’m driving I have my phone in a holder on the windshield which can read my face without really moving it in order to get into Day One so it can save it.
That’s it. You can download the workflow here and of course feel free to modify it however you would like.
Don’t forget that you can also setup your own Siri command to run this Shortcut. The default is set to “Daily Reflection”
- The entire shortcut